Tuesday, 15 April 2014

6 New Releases To Groove To

Lancelot - No. 2

1) Charles I & Craig Williams - This Is It

If there hadn't been so many other songs I was desperate to share with you, I would have done a whole post on this EP, dropped last week on Discobelle. Having also released Attrition earlier this month (which I posted about here), it seems that LA-based tech-magician Charles I has been pretty busy. Joining forces with Craig Williams, This Is It could power a dance floor from dusk to dawn with its dogged energy and quivering pulse. 'Increase The Doses' is a personal favourite, perfectly suited to that 3AM peak, when the climbing synths and urgent vocal sample drive the night into its oblivion.

2) Paul White - 'Song From The Old'

Oh Paul, it seems you can do no wrong. After having read on a SoundCloud comment that the sample was bulgarian, a quick search for bulgarian choir music led me straight to the song's original sample. In a stroke of genius, Paul harnesses the coarse power of the vocals, attaches two-tonne weights to their natural rhythm and creates something raw, dynamic and compelling. 

3) Luke Warm - 'Brockley Spears'

The second track off Luke Warm's promising debut Instant Vibe, 'Brockley Spears' is an impossibly funky soup of old-school samples and vibrant refrains. Compiled masterfully into what is ultimately a house groove, it manages to preserve simultaneously the energy of disco, soul and jazz. This isn't one for side-stepping. This'll make you want to shimmy like an uncle at a wedding.

4) Little Dragon - 'Paris'

'Klapp Klapp' was the song that introduced us to the new sound of Little Dragon's upcoming album Nabuma Rubberband (posted about here), and now we've been further teased with 'Paris', a synthpop lyric that announces, 'It's that time to transform,/To come around, I'm changing'. There's no doubt that the Little Dragon's style is transforming, but compared to 'Klapp Klapp' I'm finding 'Paris' a bit underwelhming. Underpinned by a propulsively rigorous beat, it packs the punch of their earlier work in terms of energy but lacks the moments of harmonic beauty that made Ritual Union so addictive. While the lyrics express heartbreak poignantly, this emotion escapes the music itself.

5) 6th Borough Project - 'Back 2 Black' (Cuthead Remix)

If you read my blog regularly, you might remember that I brought in the new year (go on, have a read) with Cuthead's brilliant album Everlasting Sunday. This time, the German artist is back to provide remixes (alongside Fantastic Man and Ben La Desh) of the fresh new album by Scottish duo 6th Borough Project, Borough 2 Borough. Released last month on the quickly flourishing new label Delusions Of Grandeur (which counts its fans amongst house heavyweights Soul Clap and Seth Troxler), the LP boasts a collection of 'slo-mo grooves' with 'a crawling pace'. 'Crawling' not really being Cuthead's style, he uses this remix as an opportunity to harness the festive percussion of the original, up the BPM and inject some melodic depth with lush synths and a healthy dosage of hi-hat.

6) Lancelot - 'Truth' ft. Ngaiire

This man's music grows on you in the same way that his gorgeous hair luxuriates over his shoulders. Taken from his forthcoming J.O.B. EP, which is to be released on British Anjunabeats sub-label Anjunadeep on April 28th, 'Truth' is soon to be available from a reliable dance floor near you. The track isn't groundbreaking, but as soulful deep house grooves go, it's pretty sweet. Vocals from the gorgeous Ngaiire are what makes this track special, accompanied perfectly by mellow chords and those classic house claps that'll get you moving in a matter of seconds.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Dauwd - Kindlinn EP

I was lucky enough to see Dauwd support Bonobo (all hail) on his North Borders tour last October in Leeds, and it was probably one of the best sets I saw all year. In fact, I came away that night about as excited about Dauwd as I was about Bonobo. The EP he released last year, Heat Division, was beautifully crafted from a mosaic of warm synths, effervescent beats and lovingly treated vocal samples, so I expected a lot from Kindlinn, which was released on trusty German imprint Kompakt this monday. 

While I probably wouldn't rate it over his previous work, I can't say I was disappointed. Having ditched the choppy vocal samples for synth flourishes and a heavy, solid metre, Dauwd's sound seems to be evolving in line with the steadily flourishing techno scene propagated in cities such as Berlin and Detroit. While this mechanised, pounding beat, particularly evident in the EP's title track, makes for deeply atmospheric listening, it also loses (in my opinion) some of the interest that comes with the light, bubbling complexity of some of my favourite Dauwd tracks, such as 'Ikopol', 'And' or 'Aqueous'

You can stream the entire EP below, but if you like it then make sure you buy it on Beatport here.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Recent Rediscoveries

Frankie Knuckles - no. 12

While it is of course very important to stay trendy and hip by keeping up with recent releases, it's also a shame to let great tracks fall by the wayside. So because I have been neglecting my blog so much recently, I've not only posted yesterday about my favourite new releases, but also put together a list of some older songs that have taken me through the last few months.

1) Osunlade - 'Human Beings' (Atjazz Remix)

Osunlade, the man at the helm of the dynamic Yoruba Records, released his seventh studio album last year under the compelling (though perhaps not so snappy) title, 'A Man With No Past Originating The Future'. The LP weaves in and out of diverse soundscapes, opening with ambient meditation, 'The Realm Of Difference', and moving through lilting, orchestral influenced 'Goddess', the more upbeat, tribal-sounding 'Satellite Beneath The Stars' and, one of my favourites, the instrumental jazz fusion 'Eclipse'. The result is spiritual, global and rounded and you can watch the visuals to all of these and more free on YouTube. However, it is 'Human Beings' that was chosen as the basis of a remix EP released this January. Alongside adaptations by Isolée and Luke Solomon (co-founder of Classic Records), the 12" features a rework by the UK's very own Martin Iveson, producer and owner of Atjazz Record Company. With a slightly heavier groove and warm synth chords, the track lends a polished lounge feel to the original.

2) Archie Pelago - 'Avocado Roller'

This isn't the first time Archie Pelago's appeared on the blog, and it won't be the last. The trio of genii hail from Brooklyn, but the energy and drive of their music is universal. Incapable of being boring, the only thing you'll know you're going to get when they start playing is creative passion and raw talent. 'Avocado Roller' was part of last year's kaleidoscopic Sly Gazabo EP, which you should (no, HAVE TO) listen to here.

3) Bishop Nehru - 'Elder Blossoms'

'Elder Blossoms' sees hip-hop heavyweight MF DOOM providing characteristically nostalgic production for the rhymes of up-and-coming Bishop Nehru. The track's rolling instrumental follows the example of Busta Rhymes and Faith Evans, a sample from Galt MacDermot's 'Space' providing the smooth backdrop for Nehru's self-reflective Bildungsroman. 

4) Theo Parrish - 'Summertime Is Here'

Theo Parrish, raised amidst the legendary Chicago house scene and heavily influenced by jazz legends such as Miles Davis, Nina Simone and his own uncle Dexter Sims, has resurfaced recently with the release of 'Flowers', a soulful collaboration with singer/songwriter Andrew Ashong. However, he began producing records when he was just 13 years old and he released his first LP over 15 years ago. 'Summertime Is Here' is the title track of one of his earliest EPs, released in 1999 and sampled to this day.

5) Kimbra - 'Settle Down' (Diggs Duke Remix)

'Settle Down' is the most popular song off the debut studio album by Kimbra, Triple J favourite and sweetheart of the Australian charts. Diggs Duke, on the other hand, is a lesser-known singer, songwriter and multi-instrumental jazz musician from across the pond. While better known for his original compositions, his remixes also showcase an ear for infectious beats and richly layered harmonies.

6) Sonnymoon - 'Nothing Thought'

Woozy melodies and detached, throwaway guitar flutters allow this Bostonian pair to reject emotional intensity in favour of an atmosphere of perfectly unpretentious meditation. However, far from inspiring apathy in the listener, I found myself enamoured with their music's unhurried poise and beautiful lyrics:

I was born with nothing
And nothing, I'll go
Soul split particle
Disperse and flow

7) Suff Daddy - 'Pattern Select/Giscar Sob'

Taken off his 2012 LP Suff SellsSuff Daddy welcomes you with these self-ironising visuals into his world of 'Dope beats, sick samples and twisted Mini-Korg licks, fuelled with weed and Pilsetten.' Hip-hop fans with a taste for clever sampling from the likes of QuasimotoGuts (get this on those summer playlists) or even J Dilla are likely to enjoy the cool, old school style of Suff Daddy. Last year also saw him collaborating with much-loved Japanese DJ Ta-ku on Bricks & Mortar, which you can check out here.

8) Qadafee - 'Sh1ft'

If the awesome artwork doesn't make you want to press play, the name will. Having collaborated with brilliant artists such as Volor Flex (blogged about here) and Elo Method, Qadafee delivers celestial future garage with the sophistication and luster of artists such as Phaeleh or Synkro.

9) Crazy Baldheads - 'First Born' (Champagne Breakfast Mix) 

As the video I've embedded helpfully clarifies, this one is an 'old skool garage nutter'. It was first released as part of a 12" in 1998, featuring the original and two remixes, but we have Kieran Hebden of Four Tet to thank for its revival. Having featured it on his Fabriclive CD, he has also rereleased through his own label, Text Records, writing in the press release how much he loved the 'wicked shuffling beat with amazing chopped samples flying in and out all over the place.'

10) St Etienne - 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart' (Masters At Work Dub)

Never mind about Route 94, THIS is what it's all about. This remix is a 1991 house classic so organic that you can hear the vinyl jumping. A prime example of the early magic of Warner Bros Records

11) Mala - 'Calle F'

Mala's 2012 album Mala In Cuba was without a doubt the most substantial release of his career, the British artist taking a step back from the shorter 12" and travelling not only out of his comfort zone, but also his country. The man was already a colossal figure in the industry, not only running Deep Medi Musik but also co-founding DMZ alongside Coki as part of Digital Mystikz, one of the most powerful pairs in dubstep. 'Calle F' sees Cuban beats and brass flourishes refined, reverbed and Mala-fied for a track more composed and indulgent than something you'd expect from his club-oriented EPs.

12) Frankie Knuckles - 'Tears'

This one goes out to 'The Godfather Of House', Frankie Knuckles, who was found dead at his home on March 31st. The past few days have seen a huge outpouring of grief and numerous tributes from all over the world, proof of the scope of his influence and appreciation. 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Recent Releases

R.I.P. Sean Stewart (left), founding member of Australian band HTRK - Number 8

1) Four Tet - 'Gillie Amma, I Love You'

A breathy, slow-burning ballad, Four Tet's 'Gillie Amma, I Love You' was released as part of Boats, a long-awaited compilation by Scottish music and film collective Transgressive North. As spacious and haunting as a Sigur Rós composition, it is only one one of the album's 29 original tracks by artists such as Max Tundra, Son Lux and Rustie. Buy it here and all your dollah goes to helping destitute children in India.

2) Mo Kolours - Mo Kolours

London-based Mo Kolours was dropping samples from his debut self-titled album for a couple of months before its release, the most recent of these being 'Little Brown Dog'. Whimsical vocals meet an unusual arrangement of brass and steel drums in a manner typical to the half Mauritian, half English producer. His exotic, breezy sound and sixth sense in sampling mean that his album will make the perfect backdrop to the sunshine that is slowly but surely re-entering our lives. The album dropped on March 24th on One-Handed Music.

3) Erykah Badu - 'Bump It' (DJ A1 Remix)

A key member of her band, The Cannabinoids, it is perhaps unsurprising that DJ A1 is able to treat some of Erykah Badu's most underrated work with the respect and vision it needs. He released two funky reworks of 'Bump It' and 'Back In The Day' off her 2003 full-length Worldwide Underground, injecting extra groovability into the already impossibly soulful originals.

4) Charles I - 'Attrition Part 1'

A mile away from the feel-good mood of the above, LA beatsmith Charles I's Attrition EP demonstrates the coldest, most unsentimental strain of underground techno. A minimalistic beat and an unchanging tempo plough through both parts of the EP, creating a mechanical inevitablility both thrilling and dangerous. 

4) gøldFFinch - 'Black Pyramid'

The release of gøldFFinch's new Black Pyramid EP sees the Belgian duo joining the ranks of some of the most in demand artists of the moment; those providing high energy tech-house stompers for epicurean ravers across the globe.

6) Millie & Andrea - Drop The Vowels

Manchester-based duo Miles Whittaker and Andy Stott, who have been collaborating since 2oo8 under the alias of Millie & Andrea, have released their new album just in time for a place on my collection of March releases. A merging of Whittaker's dubby bass rumblings and Stott's signature booming techno makes for a dark, gritty and at times overbearing experience, pointedly steering clear of easy listening. Made obvious with track names such as 'Stay Ugly' and 'Corrosive', Stott cites elusive Londoner Jai Paul as one of his influences, describing his production as 'super squashed, super compressed, and then there's something really nasty underneath.' You can stream the album here for free.

7) DJ Koze - 'Nices Wölkchen' (Robag's Bronky Frumu Rehand)

Having doted on DJ Koze's Amygdala as much as any sane consumer after its release last year, I quickly began to get excited about the release of its remix EP (previous ramblings here.) While 'Nices Wölkchen' was by far my favourite track on the album, this remix by first-class German beatsmith Robag Wruhme is unlikely to disappoint even those listeners most averse to its modification. Wruhme's version underpins the original with a mechanical, tech-house beat, easing it onto the dancefloor while maintaining its otherworldly feel.

8) HTRK - 'Blue Sunshine'

The success of Australian rock outfit HTRK has never come easily, with a history of depression and emotional hardship reaching its peak when Sean Stewart, bassist and founding member, committed suicide on March 18th, 2010. The two remaining members, Nigel Yang and Jonnine Standish, continue to write music after this tragedy, their progressive rock sound becoming increasingly influenced by darker strains of techno and dub. Their most recent EP, Psychic 9-5 Club, has just been released on Ghostly International, which warns that HTRK's music is 'not a quick-fix for restless, impatients minds; it needs to be absorbed, contemplated and revisited.' Technically, this was released on April 1, not March, but bite me. My blog, my rules.

9) Throwing Snow - Pathfinder

One of my favourite acts of the moment (see previous enthusing here), the new EP from Throwing Snow has induced a new wave of Parklife-itus. Pathfinder sees Ross Tones continuing to adventure further from club-oriented house staples and pushing the boundaries into more experimental realms of electronic fusion. Its opening track 'The Tempest' places hurrying and uncertain synth melodies against the ethereal vocals of Romanian Ada Kaleh to create a faltering 2-step with the astral feel of a Flying Lotus composition.

10) Clap! Clap! - 'Kaluma'

Another jazz artisan gone electronic pioneer, C Crisci dropped the fantastic Tambacounda EP under the candid moniker of Clap! Clap! on March 3rd. It was released through Black Acre, the record label behind the absolutely brilliant Meditations on Afrocentrism by fellow afro-futurist Romare. A restless collection of pounding, African-inspired rhythms and stirring, tribal motifs, the energy that these tracks manage to evoke belongs somewhere in between the dancefloor and the campfire.